Moules frites mariniere style is a simple but very classic way to enjoy fresh mussels. Though this dish hails originally from Belgium my very first moules frites experience was while visiting Toulon, France. Yes, France has a lockdown on muscles and French fries too.
The one great perk for chefs working on a cruise ship is that when there is time you may get the opportunity to go ashore and sample some of the local cuisine. On a transatlantic journey from New York City to Civitavecchia, Italy my ship had a stop in the port of Toulon, France. I had about two hours of free time before I needed to head back to the vessel. So finding a nice spot along the sea to have lunch with some coworkers was on the agenda.
The moules frites I ate in Toulon were simply delicious. The mussels were clean, tasty (sweet), and the broth full of flavor. White wine, chopped shallots, good olive oil, bay leaves, chopped parsley, and fresh mussels literally picked from the sea only a few feet away from the restaurant. Yes, it’s a party in a bowl and everyone is singing.
Moules Frites | Mariniere Style
For the mussels
- 3 lbs. mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 3 tablespoons, unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup, shallots chopped fine
- 1 1/2 cup, white wine (Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc)
- 2 tablespoons, parsley chopped
- 2-3 bay leaves
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
For the potatoes
- 2-3 lbs. of potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch sticks
- 4-5 cups of canola oil for deep frying
- salt — to season as soon as the potatoes are done
- Heat at least 3 inches of oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 370°F.
- Working in batches if necessary, fry the potatoes until cooked through and tender, about 5 minutes.
- Do not worry if the potatoes are not cooked fully. They will be cooked a second time once the mussels are ready.
Tip – After about 10-20 seconds give the potatoes a gentle stir so that they do not break. Stir slowly as to not break the fries.
- Once done remove the French fries to a try with absorbent paper. Keep the oil ready for later.
Cooking the mussels
- Heat the butter in a large pot over a medium flame. Add the chopped shallots and saute until they are cooked through and translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the mussels, white wine, parsley, and bay leaves
- And salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring to a boil, then cover, and cook over a moderate flame to steam open the mussels.
- shake the pot occasionally until the mussels are all steamed open and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.
Tip – Do not shake the pan too hard. The muscles may fall out of their shells. Shake gently a few times and you can even use a kitchen spoon to list some muscles up from the bottom and then place the lid back on and continue steaming them.
- Remove the mussels from heat and set them aside.
Finishing the French Fries
- Increase the temperature of the oil to 385°F and fry the cooled potatoes until browned and crispy.
- This should take about 5 minutes.
- Remove to a platter or bowl and sprinkle generously with salt.
- Spoon the mussels into a bowl and pour the juices over them.
- Serve a side dish of the French fries and an empty bowl for the mussel shells.
Tip – Typically a side of mayonnaise is served with the French fries. However, if you prefer ketchup by all means go for it and ENJOY!